For some local high schools, the recent coronavirus outbreak has drastically affected the beginning of their spring sports season.
For other area schools, the impact hasn’t been nearly as significant.
But either way, the spread of the virus has cast a cloud of uncertainty over spring sports.
“The biggest challenge is not knowing what’s gonna happen tomorrow,” Northwest District athletic director Robert Polk said. “When we have a snow event, we can watch the weather forecast and we can make some educated guesses. In this particular case, we don’t know what’s going on with the virus. We don’t know if the governor is going to come out with some mandate.
“It is very challenging, because we can’t see the end,” he added. “We don’t know what’s coming around the corner.”
Spring sports include baseball, boys and girls golf, boys soccer, softball, girls tennis and boys and girls track.
The most significant course of action was taken Friday by the Edmonds School District, which announced that all games and athletic competitions through April 12 have been suspended.
Between the district’s four high schools — Edmonds-Woodway, Lynnwood, Meadowdale and Mountlake Terrace — that decision affects more than 180 varsity sporting events.
“This is an evolving situation and we’re just trying to make the best decisions for our students and our staff and our community with the information that we have,” Edmonds School District media and public relations supervisor Harmony Weinberg said. “We have daily briefings in our emergency operations center where we discuss these situations and make these decisions with direct contact with the Snohomish Health District.
“Picking the March 9 through April 12 (time frame) gets us through spring break,” Weinberg added. “And so that provided us a little over a month to track the conditions as they’re changing and continue our part to best do social distancing when and where we can.”
Edmonds School District teams are still holding practices. The district said in Friday’s announcement on its website that it considers practices “extensions of the school day.”
“We want to not bring in new people who are not part of our particular community at that time,” Weinberg said. “We’re trying to maintain and continue education with our students as much as we can and continue with other activities as we can. So by controlling the environment as best we can with the people who are already in that environment, (we’re) trying not to bring in outside potential spreads.”
Other local school districts also have announced postponements or cancellations.
The Marysville School District — which includes Marysville Pilchuck and Marysville Getchell high schools — has postponed or canceled all athletic events through at least March 22.
The Monroe School District has suspended all athletic events through next Monday and is taking a weekly approach, Monroe High School athletic director Jeannette Siemers said.
Marysville and Monroe teams are still practicing.
The Stanwood-Camano School District has suspended all sporting events through at least March 21, Stanwood High School athletic director Tom Wilfong said Tuesday evening.
The district announced Tuesday that all of its schools will be closed Wednesday through Friday “so that we can assess the evolving situation in our community.” Athletic practices and activities also are canceled.
As of Tuesday evening, three cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed at a Stanwood nursing home.
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement of the district-wide school closures, Stanwood had already suspended all high school sporting events through this weekend.
“Hopefully we get through it and give the kids at least some part of their spring season,” Wilfong said Monday. “Like all the coaches and I talk about, you feel bad for (the) seniors. Underclassmen will have another year. … But seniors, they only get their one senior year. So hopefully we get something to happen for them.”
The Arlington, Everett, Lake Stevens, Mukilteo, Shoreline, and Snohomish school districts had not canceled any games or competitions as of Tuesday afternoon.
However, many teams within those districts have had events postponed or canceled as a result of measures taken by their opponents’ districts.
“We haven’t canceled any yet, but other schools have canceled, which affect our schedule, of course,” Arlington High School athletic director Tom Roys said.
And as Roys noted, the situation could change at any moment.
“This thing is so fluid that the phone could ring when I hang up here and tell me that we’re gonna (postpone or cancel games),” he said Tuesday morning. “So that’s probably the most trying thing is just not knowing.”
The Snohomish School District closed its schools Tuesday after it was confirmed Monday that a district employee had tested positive for COVID-19. All athletics and activities were canceled Tuesday.
The district announced Tuesday afternoon that its schools were scheduled to reopen Wednesday. Mark Perry, the Snohomish High School athletic director, said Tuesday afternoon that high school sports practices also were slated to resume Wednesday.
Perry said the district had not canceled any sporting events as of Tuesday afternoon, but that some final decisions were still being made.
“We have not canceled any events that are under our control yet,” he said. “But obviously as fast as things are changing, that could change as well. There was some discussion today and we’re waiting for some final word here probably (Wednesday) morning.
“So we’re just staying flexible and kind of riding along with it,” he added.
March 2 was the first day of practice for spring sports across the state. The state championships for spring sports are slated for the week of May 27-30.
Most of the area’s postponed or canceled sporting events are non-league contests. However, for Edmonds School District teams and opponents, the beginning of league play will be affected.
Polk said that because of the fluid nature of the situation, athletic directors plan to wait a bit longer before making any changes to league schedules.
“We are choosing to be patient,” he said Monday evening. “We’re looking at things, but we’re going to wait a couple more days, because things can change in a hurry and decisions might be made for us.
“And so instead of doing a whole bunch of work right away on what the league schedules will change to or what have you, we’re just gonna be patient and hope there aren’t any drastic changes or developments that cause us to do something else.
“But once we get through the next couple days and we hopefully have a better idea, then we’ll start working on that.”
Weinberg said the priority right now is health and safety.
“At this time, we just need to prioritize the safety of our students and staff and coaches — just do everything we can in this unprecedented time for us as a district and making the best decision we can each day with the information that we have,” she said.
“And we understand it’s frustrating and it’s challenging and not ideal. But when you’re dealing with an outbreak that has impact to people’s health, we’re just prioritizing that and doing everything we can as a district to stay on top of it.”